HRC Blog

Scotland Marriage Equality Bill Clears Hurdle

Post submitted by Tushar M, HRC Global Engagement Fellow

Today Scotland’s Marriage and Civil Partnerships Bill, which aims to extend marriage rights to same-sex partners, passed the first of three stages in the Scottish Parliament, with a staggering majority of 98 votes to 15 and 5 abstentions. This is the first time Members of the Scottish Parliament have voted on same-sex marriage.

Civil partnerships have been legal in the UK since 2004 and give same-sex couples most of the rights of married couples. Scotland and Northern Ireland began the debate around marriage equality in 2011, after the Scottish Government held a consultation on not only removing religious prohibitions for civil partnerships but also legalizing same-sex marriage within that country.

Should the current legislation move forward, marriage equality could come to Scotland in early 2014. Conservative members of the Scottish Parliament are speaking up against the bill calling it an “undermining to traditional marriage” and have voiced concerns about members having being pressured into vote “Yes” just to avoid being branded as homophobic. Though the Catholic Church and Church of Scotland oppose the legislation, there remains many supportive religious leaders who support same-sex marriage in Scotland.

Earlier this month, the Prime Minister of Ireland finally came out in support of same-sex marriage, setting in motion the initial stages of a referendum on same-sex marriage set to be held in Spring 2015.

Currently, fifteen countries have marriage equality nationwide (Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, Denmark, France, Brazil, Uruguay, and New Zealand) with one other country – England and Wales – nearly there after Queen Elizabeth gave her royal assent to marriage equality legislation approved by both houses of parliament.

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